Biology student uses articulation program to fast-track to medical school

UMSL biology and Pierre Laclede Honors College student Michael Weaver is headed to medical school next year. Weaver, a junior, is the first to take part in one of UMSL’s new pre-professional articulation agreement. (Photo by Myra Lopez)

Make no mistake, Michael Weaver loves the University of Missouri–St. Louis. He’s a senator with the Student Government Association, an active member of Sigma Pi fraternity and a student mentor in the Opportunity Scholars Program. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to ignore the chance to speed up his academic career by a full year.

Weaver, a junior biology major and Pierre Laclede Honors College student, is benefiting from one of a series of agreements UMSL has recently put into place with other universities to ramp up professional health programs. These articulations allow UMSL students hoping to enter the medical field to finish their education more quickly. Weaver, who hopes one day to work in pediatric oncology, is now able to leave UMSL after his junior year – if he wants – and complete his biology degree concurrently with his first year of medical school at Kansas City (Mo.) University of Medicine and Biosciences.

“Typically when you apply to medical school you start applying in your junior year and then interview your senior year,” said Joe Southerland, pre-health adviser for the College of Arts and Sciences at UMSL. “But with this program you actually start applying your sophomore year. It’s essentially a three-plus-four program instead of the normal four plus four.”

In addition to KCUMB, UMSL has similar partnerships with Kent State’s College of Podiatric Medicine in Independence, Ohio, Logan University’s College of Chiropractic in Chesterfield, Mo., and UMSL’s College of Optometry.

Recently UMSL expanded its range of partnerships to include Washington University in St. Louis’ program in occupational therapy and the University of Missouri– Columbia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Ron Yasbin, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has been instrumental in enhancing the pre-health offerings at UMSL.

“Providing these types of articulation agreements helps reinforce our role as a Metropolitan Land Grant Institution and one that is devoted to advancing the educational, cultural and economic needs of the region, state and nation,” Yasbin said.

Weaver said he came to UMSL wanting to go on to medical school but was unaware of the three-plus-four program until Southerland made him aware of it.

“Even when I was really young I wanted to be a doctor and initially, to be completely honest, I liked the idea of being a doctor because you could make a lot of money,” he said. “But once I actually got a little experience in the field I realized that, talking to other doctors, they all seem to absolutely love it. You can actually take the knowledge you learn, apply it and make a huge difference in someone’s life – a difference that’s not possible in a lot of other fields.”

Now that his time at UMSL is coming to a close, Weaver said it’s bittersweet.

“In some ways, I do have mixed feelings about the program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s a chance to speed up my life by a year. But also, it would be sad to miss out on a year of the college experience that I’ve come to really love here. At the same time, it has offered me all these new opportunities I wouldn’t have had before.”


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